A beautifully written and narrated book, with so many characters that I won't soon forget. I wasn't there but the descriptions of the events and the people of Britain during WWII made me feel like I was there, or wish I had been. A little time travel, anyone? Some have complained that the two books, Black Out being the other, were over long. I disagree. The time used in the development and growth of the characters and their many parallel stories added so much to the atmosphere of the story and to the gradual rise in tension and wonderful conclusion.
Ah yes, back again with those angst-filled historians from the future. I really enjoyed both books. The authors begs, cajoles, emphatically declares that you should listen to the first book first. No, this is not a conspiracy, but rather a well planned out book of historical/science fiction with large, interesting cast of characters. Once again kudos to narrator Katherine Kellgren for bringing everyone alive. Sure, the characters get a little whiny at times but the trauma of war and concern about the future is palpable...listen to both!
LOVED this story! Connie Willis makes you fall in love with the characters. Katherine Kellgren is AMAZING as a narrator, flawlessly executing different voices and accents all in the same breath. Blackout and All Clear are a "must listen". Hope to hear more from this narrator.
Connie Willi is one of my favourite authors and I think this would have to be her best work. Her writing is so evocative and her research so thorough, that listening to these two books almost felt like time travel. I waited until both parts were available and listened to them as one big book, which they actually are. So, the biggest problem was finding the time to listen to it because once I had started listening, it was difficult to stop. About half way through, I was feeling slightly annoyed by all the false leads in the plot but I loved the writing so much that it was easy to overlook the winding plot and just enjoy the descriptive writing. The plot was pulled together so beautifully in the end, that I forgave any tendencies to ramble. The narration was very good, although Ms Kellgren did tend to make most of her female "contemp" characters sound like Mrs Slocomb from the British TV show, Are You Being Served.
So, two very minor points in an otherwise fabulous listening experience.
When I finished Blackout (book one) I had high expectations for this second concluding novel and the many revelations that were owed to us by the author. I admit that I felt let down but not so much that I didn’t enjoy the book and series overall. My single biggest disappointment in book 2 was the concept of the Continuum as portrayed. It was never well explained what it really was (time travel software, a super natural consciousness, the space/time continuum?), and in the end it just felt like a half baked idea that the author used because she couldn’t think of a more creative way to explain all that had gone wrong. That disappointment aside, I was happy to have read both, and I will be reading more of Connie’s books assuming she can bring herself to bring closure to future books in a single novel.
Having read all the customer reviews available so far, it's clear the Blackout/All Clear double book is either loved or hated by its readers / listeners. I'm one of the former - as a long-time fan of Connie Willis' work I've been waiting for All Clear to come out before I listened to Blackout and boy, was it worth the wait!
I can see why some readers found the characters' internal agonising over the impact their actions may have had on the space/time continuum too frequent or too long but, to me, the characters were incredibly three-dimensional and their fates something I really cared about. Yes, there were minor issues in historical accuracy - but the depth of Connie Willis' research into WWII England (and, especially, the Blitz) is incredibly impressive! And yes, there are minor inconsistencies in the books and, occasionally, Katherine Kellgren's somewhat unusual pronounciation of words was, er, surprising - but I was swept away by the story and the story-telling and the reading!
I find myself thinking about the characters and wondering what happened to them - sometimes devising plots to resolve ends which weren't tucked up entirely neatly. I think these are truly wonderful books and recommend them to anyone who likes their SF to have a human face
An excellent end to the story started in Blackout. For all of you who refused to listen to this book because of the misguided marketing, you are truely missing something. The story as a whole ranks on equal footing with Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog.
I listened to Black Out and All Clear back-to-back and found All Clear to be so confusing that I spent 95% of the book going, "huuuh?" It is excessively detailed and very convoluted. It was, however, perfectly put together in the end, but wading through 2 lengthy books to figure out what the H was going on was a bit much. Connie Willis, is a brilliant writer/researcher though and I have loved her writing style despite the confusion.
I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.
The sequel to "Blackout," and just as good as the first book, if not better. Willis is a master story-teller.
I am a long time Connie Willis fan who read Blackout in paper and felt listening to the sequel in audio would make it come alive and be more interesting as often is the case. I got midway into the second part of All Clear and could bear it no longer. I am not sure this book has any redeeming qualities despite acknowledging all the time and effort spent on research. The reasons I found this book intolerable are:
None of the characters are developed. They don't have personality quirks, past lives, and don't even develop interesting relationships with past characters. Not a one of them is likeable, and I wouldn't feel a thing if they were lost in the bombing. The secondary characters are even shallower and decidedly irritating.
Every time something even remotely interesting happens (e.g. Dunsworthy arriving and being spotted), a chapter ends immediately and we jump to some other boring story thread. It is as if Willis does not want us to be "grabbed" by the story.
Most of what happens are trivialities and every effort to escape to the future is thwarted by mundane, obnoxious occurrences--being handed a baby, a six year old's tantrum, Alf and Binnie (ugh). It is like a video game with obstacles constantly popping up.
I find the narrator's accents irritating. I can't distinguish between characters--or even male and female characters. I guess Kellgren excels at whiny children--how much of that do you want to hear?
This is historical fiction, at best, with almost no science fiction. It is fiction! How much more interesting would it have been if we liked the characters, they were developed as real people, or they had relationships of some kind? I really wanted to care and I tried to like this book. I sincerely hope Ms. Willis isn't too spurred on by all the positive reviews and considers some of the negative ones (from people who have read and loved her books in the past.)